On Day 1 of the conference, we held our “Speed in the City” contest, which was open to all to participate. Composed of a 280 wpm Q&A, 260 wpm Jury Charge, and a 220 wpm Literary, the competition presented a rare opportunity for those who have always wanted to compete on a state or national level to get their feet wet and test the waters. The contest also provided extra motivation for reporters preparing to take the RMR at 260 wpm, allowing them to zone in on their writing in a speed contest environment.
Legal Profession Networking Mixer. On Thursday evening, the “Legal Profession Networking Mixer” took place at The Ballroom at Bayou Place, located in downtown Houston. In terms of selecting an offsite location for the exciting event, Shaunise Day endeavored to ensure that our steno professionals would experience an unforgettably unique moment as they celebrated who they are and what they do as reporters. As the guests entered the venue, entrance stairs customized with “Steno in the City” décor transported them to the meeting space.
The exquisite aesthetics of The Ballroom at Bayou Place complemented Shaunise’s vision for the exciting first-time event. Our stenos enjoyed capturing selfies in a 360-degree photo booth. The room, adorned with a stunning backdrop featuring “STENO” in marquee letters, lit up the space. A “Fearless Stenographers” ice sculpture with purple lighting was also on display as were custom backdrops for more picture-taking, including an archway with balloon décor. Shaunise sought to ensure that the entire city would know about the “Steno in the City” weekend event. Every detail mattered and no stone was left unturned, resulting in a magical night for the legal profession.
Throughout the evening during the networking mixer, Steno Correspondent and Host, Kendra Mills, conducted short interviews with special invited guests and reporters. You can check out the videos in the gallery at www.stenointhecity.com.
Guest Speakers. To open up the event, attendees were graced by the presence of a special guest and speaker, Judge Carlos Moore, Esq, immediate past president of the National Bar Association and partner at the Cochran Law Firm. An attorneys’ conference convened during this same weekend, and Judge Moore was kind enough to adjust his busy schedule in order to make an appearance and speak at our networking event, which we deeply appreciated. Judge Moore spoke eloquently about our judicial system and the importance of having a stenographic court reporter take down the verbatim record.
Proclamation Ceremony. Next up, Mayor Sylvester Turner declared “Steno in the City Week, March 24th to March 26th, 2022.” The declaration was presented by Edward Pollard, Esq, Houston City Council Member, District J. Mr. Pollard graciously presented and dedicated this important proclamation to stenographers across the globe. We offered a special thank you to Alvin Byrd, a dear friend of Shaunise Day, for assisting with this process.
Guest Speakers (cont’d). Our next special guest at our networking mixer was the Honorable Judge Linda Marie Dunson, 309th District Family Court, Harris County Civil Courthouse. Showcasing the Houston 19, also in attendance was Judge Lashawn A. Williams, Civil Court at Law No. 3 and Judge Lori Chambers Greg, Texas 262nd District Court. Judge Dunson, who has attended prior “Steno in the City” events, also participated in the first-ever “Steno Judicial Career Fair “ conceived and organized by Shaunise Day via Zoom during the height of the pandemic. In fact, “Steno in the City” partnered with KIPP Academy to host several career fairs during the pandemic where Judge Dunson engaged with students regarding exciting career options within the judicial system.
Consistent with Shaunise Day’s mission to “network, network, network,” our next special guest speaker was Derrick A. Reed, Esq, partner at the Stephens Reed & Armstrong, PLLC, law firm. Understanding that networking is absolutely vital to our profession, Shaunise mined her vast personal contacts in order to attract members of the legal community to this groundbreaking event.
The next special guest who spoke at our networking event was our beloved stenographer Stacey E. Raikes, RMR, CRR, who did a fabulous job representing and advocating for court reporting and captioning professionals. We also received a few remarks from the National Court Reporters Association immediate past president Debbie Dibble, and past president Carl Sauceda.
Live Band Performance. What came next eyes have not seen nor ears have heard. This may have been the first-ever steno-related networking event to have a live band perform. Jazz Songstress Kiora Michelle of Houston, Texas, entertained us with several tunes. The steno community networked, enjoyed delicious appetizers and drinks, and danced the night away. On the first night of the conference, it was abundantly clear that our mission to create a magical, memorable evening for all was accomplished.
Since this was the first day of the actual conference, we wanted to kick it off in an exciting and novel way. Toward this end, we held a “Steno All-Star Keynote” featuring an array of steno-related keynote speakers. Festooned with an all-star theme, this portion of the event provided an outlet for powerful voices within our profession. Handpicked and armed with a special purpose, each speaker in the empowering lineup encouraged, uplifted, and inspired our steno community.
Keynote Speaker Presentations. We are proud to say that “Steno in the City” currently has a list of 136 legends, veteran stenographers with more than 40 years of service to our profession. It was our mission to showcase several at this important event. As such, steno legend Brenda Countz, still going strong after 53 years in the profession, presented at our event.
Next up was Allie Hall, stenographer and steno advocate, who works unceasingly hard for our profession. In fact, Allie rolled up her sleeves and took on a leadership role at the event as she resolved some unforeseen technical glitches. With a huge heart for students, colleagues, and all things steno, Allie is an MVP in our world.
A New Record. And, lastly, since the conference was held in Houston, Texas, it was only appropriate to showcase Mark Kislingbury, the GOAT — Greatest Of All Time — as our keynote speaker. Mark brought the all-star vision to life in a quintessentially Kislingbury kind of way.
During his keynote address, Mark did something that has never been done before. In order to set the stage before the other all-star speakers took to the podium, we witnessed Mark break his own prior speed record of 360 wpm while also transcribing in real time. To our amazement, Mark set a new speed record of 370 wpm on the “Steno in the City” stage in Houston, Texas. We were all on the edge of our seats reading his notes while trying to make sense of it all. As always, Mark continues to inspire and encourage others in the profession to achieve their own personal best.
Here is your daily reminder. Work on your briefs and phrases daily! For inspiration and motivation, visit the gallery to view Mark’s YouTube page as well as witness his amazing achievement at the “Steno in the City” conference.
Seminar Sessions. Immediately following our keynote speakers, guests were invited into seminar sessions where CE hours and CEUs were approved by the National Court Reporters Association and JBCC from Texas.
The first seminar session was the “Steno State of Emergency” with speakers Liz Harvey, Lillian Freiler, Stacey Raikes, and Carolyn Ruiz Coronado. It was important to showcase highly skilled reporters and nationally known leaders who have witnessed firsthand the transition of our profession over 40-plus years. Another priority was to include a Texas reporter on our panel who would, therefore, be in the best position to educate conference attendees on the changes and current events in their home state.
The theme of our second seminar session was “Fear: The Game Changer,” led by Kimberly Xavier. Kim’s fun and interactive session reminded us about the importance of setting goals, making a plan, and following through with execution.
Speaker Carrie Sheffield, an accountant from Texas and good friend of Shaunise Day, led our third session for the day, titled “Money Management.” Carrie talked about IRS laws, filing taxes, the difference between Roth IRAs and traditional IRAs, 401Ks, and preparing financially for a pandemic. Later in 2022, Carrie was requested to present at another court reporter state convention, exemplifying Shaunise’s motto, “Network, network, network!” You just never know who you will meet and connect with.
The fourth and final session for the day, titled “Steno Game Changers: The Young Professionals,” was timely and on point. Moderated by Chris DeGrazio, the session’s speakers were stenographic court reporters Kensie Benoit, Lauren Lawrence, Anna Mar-Lazo, Candice Andino and Stephanie Hicks.
Whether seasoned veteran or new reporter, there is one principle upon which we all stand united: to protect and promote the court reporting and captioning profession. We at “Steno in the City” staunchly believe that the most effective way to position our profession for the future is to focus on our efforts to attract fresh, new faces to the industry, offering them a stage for raising their voices and sharing new insights. That’s a game changer. As more of our veteran stenographic reporters retire, it is vitally important to reach out to the younger generation and introduce them to the court reporting and captioning profession. When we do, we are changing the game by helping our young professionals with their personal and professional growth, public speaking skills, and leadership abilities, thereby infusing the profession with new life, fresh perspectives, and novel ideas.
If you are a seasoned reporter, we encourage you to share your gifts with your younger colleagues. Show them the way so that they can continue to carry the torch into the future. As Shaunise says during nearly all of the “Confessions of a Stenographer” podcast episodes, “As technology evolves and changes, so must we. We have to be ready to adapt and move steno forward.”
Vendors. During each day of the conference, attendees mingled freely with vendors. Among the lineup were EV360 and College of Court Reporting. Jeff Moody and Judy Lehman played an essential part in assisting “Steno in the City” with our speed tests. Chase and Alyssa Frazier also played a key role in our contest with Allie Hall.
Due to unexpected technical glitches, we had to pivot in a different direction; thus we appreciate Chase, Alyssa, and Allie for making this possible.
Scentsy, represented and distributed by court reporters Sherry Knox, Marissa Garza, and Kimberly Xavier, exhibited their enticing products as well. We consider Scentsy our go-to spot for appealing fragrances, warmers, and candles.
Houston Steno Repair shop was also on-site at the conference. Attendees who needed their writers serviced simply dropped them off for repairs and picked them up before leaving.
We would like to thank our amazing vendors for their participation. A special shout-out to Kusar Court Reporters firm. Thank you, Jeri Kusar, for stepping up and supporting the conference in a major way.
Klor Design and Steno Swag, virtual stores with booths, were also represented at the conference. Both businesses are operated by steno students who have created fabulous products for the court reporting and captioning profession. Attendees who participated virtually were thus able to use their QR Codes and make online purchases.
Stenovator Pathway Solutions was also a vendor, featuring fun games at their booth. And, finally, Steno, the court reporting firm, was also present. Matthew Archibald from Steno was in attendance and participated in the virtual conference TikTok videos created by Stephanie Hicks. As you can tell, when you attend a “Steno in the City” event, it’s guaranteed that you’re going to have a good time.
As Friday evening drew to a close, attendees mingled with vendors during the “Steno United, Cupcakes and Cocktails” hour. As they enjoyed a slice of customized cake adorned with steno décor, attendees ended the conference on a sweet note before heading out for a night on the town in Houston.
It is our sincere hope that more court reporting firms will be a part of our future “Steno in the City” events, which helps to bridge the gap between firms, agencies, and reporters and establish positive relationships in an intimate setting.
Seminar Sessions. On the last day of the conference, there were three sessions to cover. First up was “Efficiency: Get Sh*t Done” with Allie Hall. After attending Allie’s session, some attendees were motivated to stop procrastinating, get to work on their goals, and implement systems that would allow them to work smarter, not harder.
Not only did Allie save the day on day one, she also served as speaker during this portion of the conference. Shaunise will forever be indebted to her for her willingness to step up and lead. As Shaunise laid the groundwork for and planned the details of the conference from soup to nuts, Allie was always there to advise, counsel, and remind Shaunise to breathe. A one-woman band and as resourceful as they come, Allie can always be depended on to get the job done.
Although this particular conference didn’t have committees, we did have a group of fearless stenographers that Shaunise could call on to help in more ways than one. They are Allie Hall, Nicole Rubia, Rachel Barkume, Rachel Artis, Shacara Mapp, Lamarra George, and Michelle Kirkpatrick, collectively known as our Steno Rockstars.
The next seminar session was titled “Certs Matter.” Originally this was a campaign started by Founder Shaunise Day during Certification Month. The purpose was to 1) remind the profession about the importance of certification, 2) send out updated information on testing dates via podcast episodes, and 3) remind the reporting community about reinstatement policy changes slated to take place. Thus, it was only fitting to create an actual seminar session on why certification matters.
The session was led by Angela Grant, Candice Andino, and Shacara Mapp. Each stenographer shared her own unique story regarding the importance of certification. Shacara Mapp actually did the unthinkable and obtained most of her certs during the pandemic. In fact, Shaunise and Shacara co-wrote an article about it. Click on the link to see how she did it. https://www.thejcr.com/2021/06/01/the-unstoppable-stenographer/
Candice Andino, a busy reporter who is certified in California and Texas, shared her journey and some useful testing tips. As a young professional who has also competed in national speed contests, she was featured in an episode of “Confessions of a Stenographer” titled “Steno Besties.” To listen to the full podcast, click here: https://open.spotify.com/episode/3ZDaFXIJhvmQZ0Cq9avLdm?si=c1aabfe1e8c2462f
Angela Grant, a seasoned reporter, shared her certification journey and how she put the pandemic to good use by successfully adding her California and Texas CSR and RDR to her list of certs. Kudos, Angela!
And, finally, our last session on Day 3 of the conference, titled “Evolving with Technology,” was led by Jessie Gorry. If you were not in attendance, you missed a great session! Jessie really knows her stuff, and we appreciate her many contributions to the cause.
Awards Luncheon: In case you haven’t heard by now, the Fearless Stenographers conference was a uniquely intimate and amazing space where we as a community connected, celebrated, educated, uplifted, and empowered one another. Our steno sisters and brothers experienced the feeling of family throughout the entire weekend. Although during the planning phase Shaunise stressed over whether it would all come together in the end, when she let go and let God, the end result was another resounding success.
The Awards Luncheon agenda was enveloped in love. First we honored our Men of Steno. “Steno in the City” has been acknowledging our steno brothers since our very first networking event, especially through group photos. This time our steno men collaborated to put together an incredible video for the conference. Feel free to visit the gallery to view it.
Next up, rather than wait decades to do so, it was time to honor individuals who have contributed much to our profession. For this reason, “Steno in the City” created The Steno People’s Choice Award.
When the idea of the special award, conceived by Rachel Artis, was presented to Shaunise Day, she enthusiastically responded, “Let’s do it!” Shacara Mapp, Nicole Rubia, and Rachel Artis worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make the voting process as simple as possible. All were invited to cast a vote for their favorite Steno Influencer. And the recipient of the 2022 People’s Choice Award was – drum roll, please! — Stephanie Hicks. Congratulations, Stephanie!
After the presentation of the award, we released the results of the first “Speed in the City” contest. They are as follows:
220L – 1st place: 7 errors; 99.4 percent – Karen Tyler;
260JC – 1st place: 4 errors; 99.69 percent – Karen Tyler;
260JC – 2nd place: 18 errors; 98.6 percent – Shacara Mapp;
260JC – 3rd place: 38 errors; 97.1 percent – Jennifer Miller;
260JC – 4th place: 53 errors; 95.92 percent – Kimberly Xavier;
280T – 1st place: 13 errors; 99.1 percent – Karen Tyler;
2nd place (4M pass): 40 errors – Kimberly Xavier;
3rd place tie (4M pass): 55 errors – Jennifer Miller and Shacara Mapp (Tie).
What a fun and exciting moment to witness new reporters take part in a speed contest! Hats off to the winners, who motivated and inspired others to compete on a state and/or national level.
After the speed test results were released, it was time to give out scholarships. Behind the scenes was Nicole Rubia, the lead on reviewing and grading the essays. We also appreciate the efforts of team members Doug Zweizig, Aimee Altdonna, and Alisha Conley. Thank you all for volunteering your time to grade the student and new reporter essays! The “Steno in the City” scholarship sponsors and recipients are as follows:
Esquire sponsored three students in the amount of $1,000 each. The scholarship recipients were Bethan Williams, Angie Pi, and Melissa Thai. Pay it Forward sponsored a $1000 scholarship and the recipient was Alycia Mikels. Augusta Scribes Court Reporters firm sponsored a New Professional Scholarship. The recipient of the $500 award was Kenny Rodriguez. Stenovator Pathway Solutions sponsored a New Professional Scholarship. The recipient of the $500 award was Rose Detloff. Allison Hall Reporting Education sponsored a New Professional Scholarship in the amount of $500, which was awarded to Anna Mar-Lazo. We thank all of our sponsors for supporting our students and new professionals. Next, it was time to recognize those who are truly making a difference in our profession. When Shaunise created the Philanthropy Award, she already had the recipient in mind. It all started one day when a person working quietly behind the scenes gave Shaunise tips to help with her hand injuries. Then at another crucial time in Shaunise’s journey, this same individual, who contributes much to the court reporting and captioning community, asked what she could do for Shaunise personally.
It was at that moment that Shaunise knew that she had to find a way to express her gratitude to this individual, who embodies philanthropy, in a concrete, tangible way. An expression of gratitude for constantly giving and helping others without expecting anything in return. This was the connection that had initially brought these two together, both serving the profession out of love. And so it was with gratitude that Shaunise Day recognized Allie Hall as the recipient of the first Steno in the City Philanthropy Award. Allie deserves teacher of the year, friend of the year, and colleague of the year. Why? Because she is THAT GIRL, and she deserves all the praises. It’s the things that Allie does without any desire for attention or public recognition. She works incredibly hard for students, supporting, guiding, and mentoring, doing everything she can to help them achieve their goal to join the ranks of the working court reporter. Allie Hall is the embodiment of leadership and loyalty. Thank you, Allie!
Next, Sonia Trevino, a dear friend and colleague of Kimberly Xavier, delivered a message before presenting Kimberly with the Steno in the City Lifetime Achievement Award. Kimberly, who was surprised and thankful, is another stellar stenographer who continually goes above and beyond for the court reporting and captioning profession. Having served on just about every committee for the Texas Court Reporters Association, she has an impeccable resume and deserves to be recognized for her service. With this in mind, Mekailah McChriston took the lead with other colleagues in Texas to put together an amazing video tribute to Kimberly. You can view it by visiting the gallery on stenothecity.com.
Finally, the first annual Fearless Stenographers Conference could not have occurred without the myriad contributions of the court reporting and captioning profession. It was a joint effort. We did this together, creating a new, much-needed space for our community to convene, connect, and collaborate.
Founder Shaunise Day often reminds us that there are 27,000 highly skilled stenographic professionals within our marketplace. We must commit to visiting every city and every platform in order to spread the awareness and importance of stenography to the judicial process. From this point forward, let us join our efforts to preserve, promote, and protect our profession. United we stand; divided we fall.
One Team. One Goal. STENO.